Can you make a good movie out of a stupid game?
This can be done, as 2014’s Unfriended, featured probably the most deadly game of “Never Have I Ever.” Well, now we have a new movie based on the classic game “Truth or Dare,” made by Blumhouse Productions, who scored a major win last year with Get Out. This should be interesting; after all, the only real reason people play truth or dare is to get other people to confess their embarrassing secrets. It was also a game Madonna liked to play, but I digress. Well, there is no secret here; this movie is a modern day horror masterpiece! You can tell that when the production company’s name is added to the title not just in the beginning, but also at the end!
One must examine a film’s story to appreciate its originality. A group of friends are on Spring Break in Mexico and are lured by a stranger into an abandoned church, in which they decide to play a game of truth or dare. What they don’t realize is that the game followed them back home, and torments them into continuing to play. Here, we get treated to the rules of the game. When a wide-smiled demon pops up and asks you truth or dare, you must choose an option, even though you can clearly ignore it and go about your day. If you pick truth, you must answer the following question honestly; if you pick dare, you must do the deed that is asked. If you fail at either of these decisions, you die a gruesome death. So this group of friends must find a way to stay alive and find an end to this game.
The stakes have been set for compelling drama and suspenseful horror. Wisely, though, the filmmakers avoid using actual scares, and clear the way for small and pointless jump scares that you can see coming from a mile away. The filmmakers also seem to understand that you can’t rely solely on jump scares to keep an audience’s attention, so they decided to turn up the audio on certain scenes to eardrum-piercing levels. I didn’t need those eardrums anyway.
Not since Love, Simon have I come across such a group of nice and relatable characters. They possess such pleasant qualities as giving each other lap dances and spitefully outing each other out on their secrets. When one boy is dared to show his “pool cue,” he actually considers doing so. And where else can you find two women (one of them looking like a low-rent blonde-haired Emma Stone) bickering over a boy they both like, even after about three of their closest friends have died. Don’t you want to see them make it out of this game alive?
A great horror film, however, deserves a tightly written screenplay in order for you to connect with these genuine people. Some of the film’s most memorable lines include allusions to the titular game such as “This is just part of a dare, isn’t it?” “No, she is telling the truth” and “Just try, I dare you!” When one character comes to a crucial moment of realization, she exclaims, “We’re not playing the game, the game is playing us!” Gold! My personal favorite exchange, though, is when one of the girls in the love triangle has to obey a dare and sleep with the boy. When his turn comes right after their bit of intercourse, he picks truth and has to mention his feelings for the other. He follows by saying “I’m sorry, it was the game!” to which she responds, “No, it was the truth!” Jordan Peele, hand over your Oscar to all four screenwriters of this film! Clearly, they know how dialogue works!
This film also has plenty of visual wonders for you to spot in case the story is too demanding for you to follow. One of my favorites is in a walking shot on campus in which a bicycle is about to pass behind our characters, only to mysteriously disappear in the next cut. Where that biker has gone, I do not know, and the question stayed with me throughout the film. Another example is when the characters are watching a friend’s death that was streamed online. I ponder the editing skills of these observers since that streamed video was clearly missing parts we saw when it originally happened.
The film also dares to introduce time paradoxes during a phone call that takes place literally seconds after one character leaves the house. This is happening at night, but at the other end, it seems to be daytime, as seen on the reflection of the character’s face. Also interesting is why people use the tiny flashlights on their phones, even though the area is well lit. Do you remember the clever visual metaphors in Get Out, which alluded to racial prejudice and injustice? That film has nothing on Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare!
While we are on the subject, this movie has the boldness to tackle such topical issues as closeted homosexuality and pedophilia: all in a movie where a demonic presence has a group of teenagers play truth or dare. Clearly, the dramatic envelope is being pushed, all the way to a non-ending that just sets up another film, or even better, another unnecessary cinematic universe to add to our oversaturated collection! But all the better for it, because Truth or Dare, oh wait, Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare, is a modern day horror masterpiece that needs to be seen by anyone who loves —
Wait! It’s my turn now! Truth or Dare? I pick truth! Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare is about as stupid as the game it is based on. It features almost every single tired horror movie cliché with unlikable characters to boot. The script is incredibly silly and amateurish, and the scares are too ridiculous to take seriously. The only entertaining aspects of this film are the numerous inconsistencies that have made it in through lousy editing and conception. If someone dares you to see it, double-dare them back!